Today in labor history: Mexican leader Emilano Zapata born

On this day in 1879 the Mexican revolutionary leader Emilano Zapata was born. Zapata headed the land reform struggles of Mexican farmers and was a leader of the Mexican revolution. He commanded the Liberation Army of the South.

Early in life Zapata became involved in peasant protests against plantation owners that had appropriated their lands. After many years spent in peaceful protests, he took up arms to restore stolen farms to their rightful owners.

Zapata became involved in the fight around the contested election of Porfirio Diaz. His army captured Cuautlai in 1911. After Diaz fled the country, Zapata worked with Francisco Madero seeking guarantees for further land reform. He famously proposed the Plan Ayala. The “plan promised to appoint a provisional president until there could be legitimate elections and pledged to buy back a third of the (stolen) land area held by the haciendas and return it to the farmers. Any hacienda that refused to accept this plan would have their lands taken, without recompense.”

Zapata was later tricked and killed by rival forces. He died in 1919.

Photo: Wikipedia (CC)


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